Read John 3
Focus on verse 16
Our culture has some strange ways in which we describe and express love. We might say things like “I love coffee!” but is that really possible? It might be more accurate to say, “I like coffee” since coffee is an inanimate object. It would be correct to say, “I love my wife” or “I love my children”, at least if that is true, which I believe it is. How might one measure the love one feels for another?
I often told my children that I love their mother more than I love them. I would clarify that it did not mean I did not love them, it did however, mean that if they ever tried to make me choose between them or their mother they should know right up front that I would choose their mother every time. This did two things that I believe was helpful to them. First it assured them that their mom and dad were not likely to split up like they saw happen in the families of some of their friends, and secondly, it helped them understand that it would be an exercise in futility for them if they ever tried to pit their parents against each other as children often do.
Funny thing about love is that the more one distributes it, the more one seems to have. It’s not like cookies or money, where if you give it away you don’t have it anymore. With love, the more you give it away, the more it seems to come back at you. On the other hand, if we try to keep it to our self, we end up with very little.
In today’s reading John writes about God’s love for us. This verse in the third chapter of John is quite possibly one of the most memorized and widely known texts in the Bible, and for good reason, as it describes the heart of the good news of eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (v. 16)
How much does God love us? Apparently so much that He came down to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to live as a human among us, for the express purpose of saving us from ourselves. Humanity had lost the connection with God when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s command in the Garden of Eden. Jesus choice to willingly offer His life as a sacrifice in our place presents us with the possibility of re-establishing that connection. All it takes is for us to choose to believe that Jesus did this for us. In so doing we repent and turn from our rebellious ways, allowing the Holy Spirit to empower and direct our lives. A few chapters further into this book John writes,
Greater love has not one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
This is a direct reference to what God did for us through Jesus Christ. We can know and experience that love when we lay down our life and offer it to Jesus in return – not necessarily in a literal sense, though there are some who have been called to make that sacrifice – but for most of us it is just daily choosing to allow Jesus to direct and control what we do and say. Many times we fail to do this with consistency, which is why we also need God’s grace, but that will be the subject for another day.